Friday, May 18, 2012

Return to normalcy

(originally posted in Caregivingly Yours May 18, 2012)
Wednesday, two months after successful lung cancer surgery, everything came back together for the first time. Our world returned to its normalcy.

In other words life is now just as it was before surgery, only 8 weeks later. I have no loss of abilities, restrictions, or pain.

Why should this benchmark start any different than any other caregiving day as I spent too many hours on the phone and on hold working and stressing as Patti’s POA on looming changes to Patti’s Medicare supplemental insurance?

With the cooler part of the day wasted it was time to mow the lawn, walking approximately a mile while pushing a 60 lb (27 kg) mulching power mower in 86˚F (30˚C) temps.

Next I drove to pick up Patti. Exiting her care facility assisted dining room she was quite sure her diner had been “bangin” but had no memory of what she had just eaten.

Heading out to a nearby park for a push and roll (a gentlemen never discusses a lady’s weight but let’s say Patti weighs more than a lawnmower) I pushed her for a one mile loop stopping for some hamming it up in their amphitheater, “all the world’s a stage”.

Then the pièce de résistance (insert drum roll)
… a one person unassisted transfer of Patti from her wheelchair to her bed, followed by undressing and changing her for sleep.

Unlike the miles of pushing, transferring is about lifting non-ambulatory weight. Even after transfer, while many people have changed and dressed an infant, a non-ambulatory adult is the exact same principal just exponentially more upper body strength involved.

It was a godsend that the care facility era was already in place before surgery and recovery took me out of the daily equation for two months. Patti was safe and completely cared for.

Though it’s a bittersweet return to normalcy for me as Multiple Sclerosis memory and cognitive symptoms confound Patti even realizing or remembering any loss in outings or absence of me transferring her to bed the majority of nights each week.

Normalcy? An interesting concept isn’t it? 

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 


oklhdan said...
We create our own "normal" Sometimes re-creating it every day as circumstances change. No two "normals" are the same I suspect.

So glad you have healed and can resume your "normal"!
Muffie said...
Sounds as if you're well-healed, Patrick! With MS, we're constantly redefining our 'new normal,' and your return may find the same changes.
That corgi :) said...
WTG Patrick that you were able to return to "normal" in a relatively short period of time too!! hoping the weekend is a nice on for you guys!

Judy at Peace Be With You said...
Hurray that you have healed. It almost seems miraculously fast. And miracles are always welcomed.
mscaregiverdonna said...
Patrick, I love your sense of normal because as we all know, normal is what you make it. The challenges of healing never overcame your determination to keep things normal. You are an amazing caregiver and an awesome dude. God Bless. Donna (MScaregiverdonna)

Friday, May 11, 2012

travels with a faux down vest

(originally published in Caregivingly Yours May 11,2012)
“A journey is a person itself; no two are alike.”
John Steinbeck, ‘Travels with Charley: In Search of America’

Visiting a neighbor and recent spouse caregiver widower we share surgery stories. With 9 hrs of back surgery and basically a titanium spine his trumps mine, though bittersweet, of course, since home caregiving for a spouse with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) made his surgery previously impossible.

Wearing my faux down vest to protect my ribs while driving, my return to my ‘road rat’ self was MCing the Prince George’s County Maryland Special Olympic Spring Games.  As if divine coincidence nothing could have been more motivating and rewarding than to be surrounded by heroes.
Returning I stopped to visit old friends. Surprised by the home accessibility modifications I realized I've been too wrapped up in my own life. A manly, man hug can often be an awkward dance until ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) prevents one of you from lifting his arms; I learned what it is to hug a friend.

Pushing Patti around an “Art Walk”, she could enjoy the magnitude of the art of an Italian street painter turned sidewalk artist. However since much of the art was staged in restaurants we soon disappeared into our favorite, Helena's Chocolate Cafe & Creperie for dinner. A chocolate raspberry crepe is art in our book!
With each lawn mowing and push of Patti’s wheelchair I feel the muscles strengthening even though Patti’s Multiple Sclerosis memory symptoms prevent her from remembering whether outings have increased or decreased

Driving three hours in the rain to visit cousins in New Jersey I sit down to dinner with two other cancer survivors. Still weird to think of myself as a ‘survivor’ and frankly I ‘am not worthy’ contrasted to my youngest cousin who was my inspiration through my darkest moments. Many kids turn 6 every year but this guy also celebrates his 5th year cancer free since battling liver cancer and all the while living with Muscular Dystrophy.

After all how can I say that someone inspired me if I do not let them climb all over me and my ribs to really find out if they are healed after lung cancer surgery?  … Seems I do not need that faux down vest anymore.

by Patrick Leer

That corgi :) said...
Good to hear the physical healing is "complete" and ribs aren't (too) sore any more. I'm sure it will take awhile for the mental healing to be complete and to consider yourself a survivor. What a sweet cousin, what a battle he has faced and faces. What wonderful event to MC; I'm sure you saw it through different eyes this year. What a cute outing to go to with the sidewalk art and who could resist a chocolate raspberry crepe? I bet that was delicious indeed!

Whether or not Patti remembers if outings have increased or decreased in numbers, I'm sure she enjoys immensely each and every one of them, no matter if they were a bit further apart during a particular period of time.

May it be a relaxful day and a good Mother's Day for Patti, however it is celebrated.

FrankandMary said...
I know what you are saying, but still. You're pretty worthy..on lots of fronts.
Muffie said...
I'm so glad to hear that your healing process is going well and you're back to your active lifestyle.
Patrick said...
Thank you all for the kind compliments and thoughts.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick
oklhdan said...
Glad you're healing process is almost complete Patrick! Sometimes I think having each day as a do over can be somewhat of a gift. My brother greets each experience with such gusto because for him it is a first whether he's done it a million times or not. Something to be said for that!
Heather said...
Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! I have a question about your blog. HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com